The Revolutionary Writings of Alexander Hamilton - …
Although most of Mill’s remarks are hardly less relevant today than when he wrote, he was clearly handicapped by the paucity of existing federations from which to draw illustrations, the only two of importance being the United States and Switzerland. This fact partly explains his conclusion that a federal government had inadequate authority to conduct effectively any war except one in self-defence. In the American case he had some evidence to support this opinion, but scarcely sufficient on which to rest a firm and enduring generalisation. Hence, although his principal remarks on federalism reflect shrewd intuitions, he lacked adequate data for the full play of his characteristically empirical thinking. He made no attempt to probe the history of federal ideas in such thinkers as Jean Bodin and the German jurists. His chief inspiration and guidance came directly from the American Federalist Papers and the wealth of American practical experience. He looked to concrete political experiments as a guide. Writing on the eve of the Civil War he thought that American federalism had already achieved something valuable in limiting the tyranny of majorities, protecting territorial groups, and creating a judicial arbiter supreme over all the governments, both state and federal, and able to declare invalid any law made by them in violation of the constitution.
10 Surprising Facts About Alexander Hamilton | Mental Floss
In what manner is harmony maintained among these jarring elements? How is so minute a division of the governing power rendered compatible with the existence of government? Since the concurrence of so many wills is necessary to the working of the machine, by what means is that concurrence obtained? The town-officers, for instance, are often the sole agency provided for executing the laws made or orders issued by the federal or by the state government; but those authorities can neither dismiss them if they disobey, nor promote them to a higher post in their department, for zealous service. How, then, is their obedience secured?
To depict accurately, and to estimate justly, the institutions of the United States, have been therefore but secondary aims with the original and profound author of these volumes—secondary, we mean, in themselves, but indispensable to his main object. This object was, to inquire, what light is thrown, by the example of America, upon the question of democracy; which he considers as the great and paramount question of our age.
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Let us examine it in another light. The House of Commons receives all its authority from its electors, in consequence of the right they have to a share in the legislature. Its electors are freeholders, citizens, and others, in Great Britain. It follows, therefore, that all its authority is confined to Great Britain. This is demonstrative. Sophistry, by an artful play of ambiguous terms, may perplex and obscure it, but reason can never confute it. The power which one society bestows upon any man, or body of men, can never extend beyond its own limits. The people of Great Britain may confer an authority over themselves, but they can never confer any over the people of America, because it is impossible for them to give to another which they never possessed themselves. Now I should be glad to see an attempt to prove that a freeholder, citizen, or any other man in Great Britain, has any inherent right to the life, property, or liberty, of a freeholder, citizen, or any other man in America. He can have no original and intrinsic right, because nature has distributed an equality of rights to every man. He can have no secondary or derivative right, because the only thing which could give him that is wanting—the consent of the natural proprietor. It is incumbent upon you to demonstrate the existence of such a right, or anything else you may produce will be of little avail. I do not expect you will be discouraged at the apparent difficulty. It is the peculiar province of an enterprising genius to surmount the greatest obstacles, and you have discovered an admirable dexterity in this way. You have put to flight some of my best arguments, with no greater pains than a few positive assertions and as many paltry witticisms; and you become altogether irresistible by adding, with a proper degree of confidence,
American History Timeline - Andrew Roberts' Web Site
No friend to order or to rational liberty can read without pain and disgust the history of the Commonwealths of Greece. Generally speaking, they were a constant scene of the alternate tyranny of one part of the people over the other, or of a few usurping demagogues over the whole. Most of them had been originally governed by kings, whose despotism (the natural disease of monarchy) had obliged their subjects to murder, expel, depose, or reduce them to a nominal existence, and institute popular governments. In these governments, that of Sparta excepted, the jealousy of power hindered the people from trusting out of their own hands a competent authority to maintain the repose and stability of the Commonwealth; whence originated the frequent revolutions and civil broils with which they were distracted. This, and the want of a solid federal union to restrain the ambition and rivalship of the different cities, after a rapid succession of bloody wars, ended in their total loss of liberty, and subjugation to foreign powers.